Thursday, 31 March 2016

An egg-cellent reason to go to A & E?

Posted by Emma Dorée, Fuse Communications Assistant, Teesside University

Easter is a time that many people look forward to, not only because we get a couple of extra days off work but because it is an excuse to over indulge in copious amounts of chocolate.

This year however, it seems that Easter has become a problem for many people, especially the NHS. South Tees Foundation Trust NHS have this weekend released an urgent statement on their social media sites, urging people who have given themselves stomach ache from eating too many Easter eggs not to attend Accident and Emergency.

Data for NHS England in January showed that 88.7% of patients attending Accident and Emergency were dealt with in four hours – the worst monthly performance since the target of 95% began in 2004. These figures show that Doctors are under a lot of time pressure but what they don’t show is why.

I did a piece of investigative journalism to unearth the most comical reasons why people attend A&E departments in the UK and need your help in deciding which reason is the most outrageous one.

Below are 10 reasons, most of which featured in the The Choose Well campaign developed by NHS North West in 2011 to urge people to go to the right place for NHS treatment after new figures revealed that one in four A&E patients could care for themselves or get treatment elsewhere. The campaign includes a number of short films depicting "inappropriate" A&E scenarios being played out by actors, which are very entertaining and might help you to make an informed choice.

We added stomach ache from eating too many Easter eggs as the ninth reason to keep the list up to date. Which one will get your vote?

Make sure to keep an eye on our Twitter page to find out the results!

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  1. Is 1 in 4 A&E attendances being inappropriate really so bad? Presumably, we want 100% (or close to it) "sensitivity" in terms of the decision people make to go to A&E, so presumably have to accept a lower "specificity" of the "test". We would be far worse off in 1 in 4 people who required urgent A&E care were waiting for a GP appointment or choosing to self-care.

    The root of this problem is that we expect people, most of whom rarely use the health service, to self-triage between six (or in some areas 7+) levels of care. That is not a sensible request. Even as a doctor working in public health, I couldn't tell you where I'm supposed to take myself if I develop an unclear symptom like sudden hearing loss or eye pain. Campaigns admonishing people for making obviously incorrect choices don't help the core problem.

    NHS Direct was intended as the triage panacea, but it was widely recognised that triaging over the phone and according to protocols is very difficult. But if we recognise that, why can't we recognise that it's difficult for patients too? Isn't co-located services and organised professional triage a better model?

  2. I wonder what will happen following South Tees CCG consultation with regard to urgent care? The public said they wanted better access to GPs and also were confused about where to go with different health complaints ... so the CCG have suggested several options to improve services. See:
    We will have to wait and see how well the newly designed services will answer the list on the blog ... not sure if these were the type of complaints they had in mind!